I received an email thread that included some of the best landlord-tenant lawyers in Ohio. Reference was made to a recent case regarding the validity of the service of the written notice that must be given to the tenant prior to beginning an eviction. The wording in the emails caused me to track down the case and read it. I’m glad I did. Allow me to explain.
Each state has its own landlord-tenant laws which set forth the preconditions to invoking a court’s jurisdiction in an eviction case. One of those preconditions is the proper service of a written notice (the number of days varies by state) by the landlord upon the tenant giving reasons why an eviction will begin unless the tenant can cure the default or problem. The law in Ohio is clear that proper service of this notice is a separate jurisdictional step that must be completed before an eviction action can be filed. This applies in whatever state you manage and own rental property.
The point of this post is to make sure you understand the basics of being a landlord when you have to move into the difficult area of doing an eviction or forcible entry and detainer action. Given the current economic, political, and social climate, it is important that you double check how you are doing your evictions. “I heard…” and “They say…” are not lawyers or case law. Extra due diligence is required, as rules and procedures are changing.
If you must do an eviction at this time, you need to get good legal advice from an experienced attorney prior to beginning so you make sure every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed. You should be able to provide a written record of your attempts to work with the tenant regarding resolving the issues, particularly when it comes to nonpayment of rent. This may include going the extra mile with additional communications to try one last time to work with the tenant who is either unable to pay or too embarrassed to tell you they cannot pay.
Obviously, for a tenant who is defiant about paying and has no reservations about telling you that they refuse to pay, the best thing to do is to document that, maintain your professionalism, and proceed with an eviction as quickly as possible with the assistance of a competent local attorney.